Carhayes House

Carhayes House

The first part of this house was built in 1878-79 for Thomas Barnfield. However its historical significance comes from its association with Sir John Langdon Bonython, one-time proprietor of the Advertiser newspaper and a noted public figure.

Thomas Barnfield was born in England in 1842 and migrated with his father to Victoria as a small boy. He fossicked around the goldfields of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, gaining valuable experience that enabled him to launch a successful career in mining. After success with the Bakers Creek Mine at Hillgrove, NSW, he went on to float the Eleanora Mine, also in NSW. As a promoter and investor he was seen as a moving spirit in mining development, and he became a member of several boards.

Barnfield also had some success with racehorses and in 1882 his horse, Assyrian, won the Melbourne Cup. He was a councillor with the Adelaide City Council from 1898 to 1900.

Barnfield had a single-storey bay-windowed villa built in 1878-79. He lived there for 10 years then sold it to John Langdon Bonython in 1889. The family has owned the house ever since.

The Bonythons owned several large properties, including Carminow and Carclew, but their longest association has been with this house, which they named Carhayes.

Sir John and his family lived in Carhayes until 1908. They then moved to Carclew on Montefiore Hill in North Adelaide. Carhayes was transferred to the eldest son, John Lavington, in 1909, and he lived there with his second wife until 1928. They moved to St Corantyn on East Terrace, where Lady Bonython lived until 1962 (Sir Lavington died in 1960).

Like his father, John Lavington started his career in journalism. However his main career, spanning more than 50 years, was in civic affairs. He became the city’s youngest mayor and was involved in many worthy causes and organisations, including the foundation board of the South Australian Housing Trust from 1937 to 1960.

Carhayes was twice extended during the early years of the Bonythons’ occupancy, in 1891-92 and 1896-97. Alarge drawing room and dining room to the east, and a two-storey section at the rear containing kitchen facilities and servants’ accommodation, were added. The brick and stone extensions were in sympathy with the original bluestone section, and the whole house presents as a large villa, one of several substantial 19th-century residences in the area.


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The house is significant as a fine example of Victorian era architecture, and also for its association with Sir John Langdon Bonython.

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Featured in
East End Promenade

See also

Images of Carhayes House

  • Carhayes' House
Building materials
Stone, Bluestone
Architectural styles
2 Victorian Period (c. 1840–c. 1890)
1878 - 1879 

Additional Works


Construction commenced
Construction completed


Construction commenced
Construction completed
Architecture and design features
gable, chimney, brick lean to, quoins, stucco, plinth
Engineering features
East End
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
Thomas Barnfield
Original occupant
Thomas Barnfield
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Dwelling, House
AS2482 classification
16010 - House
Public Access
Private residence
State Heritage ID
ACC Reference No.
DPTI Heritage No.
Certificate of Title No.
CT 5598/760 D50668 A99
NTSA file exists
Heritage Status
State Heritage listed
State heritage listing
State Heritage listed
Date of State heritage listing
Local heritage listing
Date of Local heritage listing
NTSA listing
NTSA registered
Date of NTSA listing
Section 23 (4) crtiteria
Risk status
Historic Themes
2 Peopling a city
2.2.1 Early Colonial Settlement
2.4 City Dwellers: City, state and business leaders
3.1 Economic Cycles
3.1.4 Discovery of Gold in Victoria
Sir John Langdon Bonython
Australian Curriculum references
Year 5: The Australian Colonies


  • ACA. Assessments, 1892-1900, Smith Survey 1880; Australian dictionary of biography, Vol. 7, 1979 pp. 339-40; Burgess, H.T., Cyclopedia of South Australia. Vol. 1, 1909, p. 507; MLSA, Historical photographs (Town Acre 354); Pascoe, J.J., History of Adelaide and vicinity, 1901, pp. 392-3; Quiz, 16 May 1895; State Heritage Branch, Report, 1986, ref. no.
  • 6628-13420.

Further reading

External links

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